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The importance of vacation rental marketing photography

No Second Chances to Make a Great First Impression

Just recently I have been reading a lot about vacation rental marketing and so much of what I read has so little to do with the subject.

A lot of what I read covers SEO, the making of personal websites, customer reviews and a myriad of other subjects that are at best obscure.
In my opinion, successful vacation rental marketing depends solely on the quality and quantity of the photographs that you display in the VR website listings like Homeaway, VRBO, etc.
In fact successful marketing of any vacation home depends entirely on the quality of your selected lead photo in these (and other) listings.

This is your one shot at making a Great First Impression – There are no second chances here.

Here’s why I think like this.

Vacation rental marketing photography

The vast majority of people searching for a property, at which to spend their vacation, do so by conducting their research on Google.
And here is the point, no matter how many hours rental owners spend on SEO, no matter how many personal websites they make and no matter how many customer reviews they worry about getting, they will never be in a position to rise above the listings giants in the search engines. NEVER.
This is what happens in reality.
Nearly all potential guests search using Google, Google returns a list that is dominated by the VR listings giants.
Once these potential clients have selected one of these listings companies and have drilled down to select a country, a region, a type and size of property, etc, they are then presented with a list of competing properties.
This list presents the photos, descriptions and pricing of around 25 or more properties.

What about other searches?

Okay, I can hear other vacation listings site owners (and I was one for many years) saying that it’s not all the big guns like Homeaway, etc, and that is true.
If you own a cabin in backwoods creek and you have it listed on backwoodscreekcabins.com and I’m looking to spend my holiday in a cabin at backwoods creek, chances are that I will come across the aforementioned website. But I will still be presented with a list of competing photos, descriptions and prices.

So, what happens next?
Research shows that, initially, these potential guests scan, compare and make decisions based solely on the images in front of them, this is called thin slicing, everybody searches like this.
Only later do they read descriptions, compare prices, etc.
They are in fact looking for a vacation rental (the key is in the words, it could not be clearer), they are not reading for a vacation rental and they are not pricing for a vacation rental.
Keep this in mind.

Your one shot at success within these listings is to have a better image than the competing images on the page.
It really is that simple.
If you are serious about renting your vacation home and want or need more bookings the easiest and quickest way to make an improvement in your occupancy rate is by optimising your image portfolio and your lead image in particular.
It really is a no-brainer.
You don’t have to learn SEO, you don’t need to make your own website and you don’t need to stress about travel reviews, you just need to spend a day making and taking better photographs of what you have to offer.

Vacation rental marketing photography

Here’s the take away
(and please notice, it’s a very nicely presented take away)

Vacation rental marketing is an image war. You need to make a great first impression and you can only do this with a great first image, you can (and should) of course follow up with more great images but they will not be seen if you don’t win the initial battle in the listings.
As far as these other vacation rental marketing strategies go, mastering SEO is not only beyond most holiday home owners it is also a moving target and does not entice potential guests, in fact I would go as far as saying that it is a waste of time for your average vacation rental owner.
Personal websites can be useful for conveying extra photographs and information about individual properties but are unlikely to be found by web visitors searching for a holiday home on the internet (but you can link to them through your listings pages).
The best way to attract good customer reviews is by first of all attracting customers and then going out of your way to treat them to prompt, quality service at all times.

Where do you go from here?

I have put together a series of easy to follow, pictorial guides that detail the tips and tricks used by professional vacation property photographers. They cover all aspects of producing quality, eye-catching, click winning images from a photo marketing makeover to creating an online portfolio, from better bedroom images to the staging of tables in the food and drink guide

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